What is an ombud in higher education?

The rules of procedure vary for each ombud as it depends on local legislation. But common is, that the ombud in higher education:

  • Is a neutral person to whom students, staff, faculty and administrators can turn in an informal and confidential manner for help with complaints about their institution.
  • Is resolving problems in an informal manner, primarily through mediation. Some academic ombuds are also entitled to launch an investigation into the complaint concluding with a formal decision.
  • Should identify structural problems within the higher education institution and make recommendations to responsible authorities to prevent similar problems in the future or improve existing situation.
  • Is positioned independently from the organisation’s management structure and has direct access to anyone.
  • Do not act as advocates for individuals or a specific group of students, bud rather advocate fairness and righteousness.
  • Is contributing to the quality assurance strand with the Bologna process. Ombuds in higher education have working relations with:
    • Rectors/presidents
    • Senates, councils, faculties, deans
    • Admission offices
    • Internations offices
    • Student representatives
    • Interest groups

Read much more in Rob Behrens‘ comparative study ‘Being an Ombudsman in Higher Education’ here:

Below you will find our map of Higher Education Ombudspersons i Europe: